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More egg salad sandwiches! United Way expands meal program for low income seniors

Debbie McInnis is the CEO of United Way in the Moncton and southeast New Brunswick area.  (Debbie McInnis - image credit)
Debbie McInnis is the CEO of United Way in the Moncton and southeast New Brunswick area. (Debbie McInnis - image credit)

United Way is hoping it can get more egg salad sandwiches and shepherd's pie on the plates of low-income seniors who need it, thanks to new federal funding.

"They love their sandwich," said Debbie McInnis, CEO of the Greater Moncton and Southeastern New Brunswick United Way. "Do not take away the egg sandwich."

The non-profit organization is expanding its already existing program that offers meals to seniors living on low income in the Moncton and southeast New Brunswick areas.

The meal program started in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic, backed by emergency funding as well as private donors. After the first year, United Way received funding from the province to keep it going.

The program is serving 117 people a week. McInnis hopes that number can grow to 300 within the next month.

Who it serves

The program is available for people who are over 60 and living on low income. McInnis says most people are living off about $21,000 a year, but some people are living off as little as $7,500.

Ann Campey, who lives at People's Park Tower in Moncton, helps deliver meals to about 30 of her neighbours in the building each week.

She says there are people who are sleeping on a mattress on the floor, and aren't getting much nutrition.

"I had stopped by one guy's place one evening and all he had for his meal is two hot dogs on a plate," said Campey.

McInnis says the program helps people who either can't afford to make nutritious meals or have physical limitations.

"One of the significant benefits I think of this program is it allows seniors to stay in their homes," said McInnis. "Food is such a vital, vital part.

"We've had people tell us and their caregivers tell us how their health has improved in having consistent, nutritious meals."

An elderly man eats a meal at a care home in Metro Vancouver on Sunday March 8, 2020. B.C.'s Senior Advocate Isobel Mackenzie says care homes are equipped to deal with an outbreak like coronavirus, which can be deadly for elderly people.
An elderly man eats a meal at a care home in Metro Vancouver on Sunday March 8, 2020. B.C.'s Senior Advocate Isobel Mackenzie says care homes are equipped to deal with an outbreak like coronavirus, which can be deadly for elderly people.

The meal program is for people 60 and over who are living on low income. (Doug Kerr/CBC)

It also means there is a social connection between the volunteers and those receiving the food, which McInnis says is important.

For Campey, it's essential.

"It's a good program," said Campey. "I can't see the seniors here now going without it. I don't know what we'd do without them, really."

The need

McInnis says people can have good meals while still being able to manage their other costs.

"When you're on a fixed income and you have fixed expenses, there's not a lot of room to manoeuvre around your budget. So, one of the things that you … can kind of cut out of your budget is food," said McInnis.

McInnis says the program is nearly full, but they are able to put people on a waitlist.